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Dominican Republic lawmakers vote down proposal to legalize abortion in new penal code

.- The House of Representatives of the Dominican Republic has backed away from legalizing abortion in cases of rape in a new National Penal Code, approved on Tuesday.  The new Code now goes to the Senate for approval.

Last week lawmakers presented the reformed penal code, the first draft of which included a clause legalizing abortion in cases of rape.  The initial draft drew widespread protests from the Dominican Republic Bishops’ Conference and other organizations.

Although it initially appeared that the modified Code - including the abortion legalization clause - would be approved, lawmakers in the House were persuaded by pro-life lobbyists not to include the clause in the final draft.

The new code establishes prison sentences of 30-40 years for murder and reduces the possibility for parole for repeat offenders of rape, violent crimes, or kidnapping.

Last week, the Secretary General of the Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Ramon Benito Angeles, explained that an abortion in the case of a rape does not benefit the woman who has suffered such a trauma.  “Just as there are centers of care for children, society must seek out solutions in favor of life for children who are conceived through rape, as well as quality care for mothers,” he said.

“Abortion is not a religious issue, it’s a human rights issue.  Those in favor of abortion paint the discussion as if this were a question of imposing religion.  This is not about an argument between religions.  Today in the Dominican Republican we are being plagued by apparently uncontrollable violence.  Every day the media surprises us with more reports of horrendous deaths and deplorable events,” the bishop said.

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